Sunday, May 22, 2005

Censorchimps: The New Jersey Sub-Species

In the latest instance (bugmenot info: ryan[at] password: register) of censorchimps stifling student expression, the administration of one Newark, New Jersey elementary school has said that a second grader can't sing a song that mentions the Diety in the school's talent show:

A public school prohibited a second grader from singing a religious song at a talent show, prompting a lawsuit Friday alleging violation of the girl's constitutional rights.

A federal judge declined an emergency request to compel Frenchtown Elementary School to allow 8-year-old Olivia Turton to sing "Awesome God" at the Friday night show, but allowed the lawsuit to go forward.

School officials in the western New Jersey community had said the performance would be inappropriate at a school event. A message seeking comment from a school board attorney about the judge's ruling was not immediately returned.

One verse has these lyrics: "Our God is an awesome God/He reigns from heaven above/with wisdom, pow'r and love/Our God is an awesome God."

The girl was told May 10 that she could not sing the song. Her mother, Maryann Turton, protested at a school board meeting that night. She was told three days later by Joyce Brennan, the school superintendent and principal, that the religious content made it inappropriate at school, according to the lawsuit filed by the child's parents Friday morning.

The lawsuit charges that the school board violated Olivia's constitutional rights to freedom of speech and due process.

The girl's lawyer, Demetrios K. Stratis, questioned how the Frenchtown school could reject Olivia's choice but allow another act based on the opening scene of "MacBeth."

"They've got a scene about boiling animals and witchcraft, but they won't allow a song about God," Stratis said.

We think that by making an issue of this the school has given itself a colossal public-relations problem that could have been easily avoided if the school had just let the little girl sing her song.

And, once again, we have to ask a question: Would the school had been so dead-set against this tune if the girl had wished to sing in praise of Islam? It seems that in our efforts to ensure that the rights of minorities are protected, we are disregarding the rights of the majority to express themselves.

For the latest edition of The Carnival of Education, along with entry instructions for next week's Carnival, please click here.

Main Page/Latest Posts